The aim of this blog is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge.

Archive for July 18, 2012

Summer coat: The summer coat of the European Roe has fine tapered hair, is ideal for wings and tails for many traditional dry fly patterns.



Winter coat: The dense buoyant hair from the winter coat of the European Roe.


A cross section of a single winter coat deer hair photographed at X 40, showing the air filled cells.


European Roe Deer Hair, tools and top tying tips part 1

This is one of my most popular posts, that I made when I first started blogging, but here it is again in three parts, updated with new techniques  and images.

Deer hair is normally described as hollow, This doesn´t mean that it´s hollow

like a drinking straw, but that each hair is built up of hundreds of small air filled



This type of hair structure is most defined in deer from areas with an

extreme winter climate. The result, the colder it is, the better the spinning

qualities, with some exceptions. The hair from our own reindeer and the north

american caribou. In order to achieve optimal insulation, these hairs hold so

many air cells that they have a tendency to be brittle, and break under the

pressure  of tying thread.

A cross section of European Roe deer hair which I photographed with the help of a microscope at X40. You can see that the hair isn't hollow as most people believe, but filled with many small air filled cells.

A cross section of European Roe deer hair which I photographed with the help of a microscope at X40. You can see that the hair isn’t hollow as most people believe, but filled with many small air filled cells.


The winter coat of the Norwegian roe deer has many air filled cells and is ideal for spinning, packing and clipping. 


While the hair from the summer coat is somewhat stiffer and extremely fine. A first class hair for tails and winging dry


The colour varies from light red brown on the summer coat to dark grey

with darker barred tips on the winter coat. 


The best hair for spinning is found

on the back of the roe along the spine. This hair is extremely dense, not at all

brittle, and floats like a cork. The chalk white hair on the rump is excellent for

dying, or for patterns that require white deer hair.

You should also be aware that the roe mask has a diversity of hair that is

difficult to equal. Here you will find hair in many different lengths, shades of

brown and coarseness. Ideal for dry´s from # 10 and down to the very smallest

comparaduns. Anyone who ties caddis flies shouldn’t be without a roe mask.

If you know a hunter or a game keeper, try and secure yourself a whole roe

skin, you wont be disappointed.

My top tools for deer hair:


Hair stackers:

These are a must if you want neat, tidy and well balanced flies. I use three,  a small one for tails and wings, a medium one for heavier wings and spinning and a long one for streamers, tubes and salt water patterns.  The stacker you choose should be well engineered. Its extremly important that insert and inner tube are flush and that the stackers are heavy and robust.

4 Cut a large bunch of deer hair. The most common mistake in tying this popular pattern is to use too little deer hair. Remove all the under wool and short hairs with a dubbing comb.

Friction free Comb:
This is also a very important tool for removing the underwool and shorter hair from bunches of deer hair before stacking.  The comb I use is made from  deer antler wich is friction free, plastic or metal combs have a tendency to load with static , causing the deer hair to stick to it.

14 With an old toothbrush, remove all the soot from the head.

This is a great tool for so many things! Removing under wool from hair bunches, brushing out hair after spinning but before trimming, and removing soot after singeing. I wouldn’t tie deer hair flies without this.


Throughout my many years tying flies, I quickly understood that one of the most important tools are the scissors you use. During this time I have accumulated several dozen pairs of scissors, in all forms, shapes and sizes, but if I am honest, I have only four scissors that are constantly in use. 

1. A pair of small extra fine pointed cuticle scissors for all the small detailed work and thread.

2. A General purpose serrated scissors for cutting tinsel, wire and heavier gauge materials.

3. A pair of long bladed straight scissors for larger jobs like preparing materials for dubbing loops.

4. A medium pair of sharp pointed serrated scissors for deer hair work.

Tomorrow I will be publishing the best techniques for making deer do what you want it to do!

The feather bender

The feather bender is a blog focusing on fly

tying & materials for fly-tyers by fly-tyers.

Fly tying for many is a hobby,  for others it´s a means of filling

their fly box with fine tuned and well tested patterns, that

would be otherwise unavailable. For many of us who read this blog

it´s more of a passion, and for some, even a

way of life…

The aim of the feather bender is to connect fly-tyers all over the world, to

share, techniques, patterns, information and knowledge. To

help the new beginner, to our craft, exchange frustration for

inspiration, and give the advanced tyer a chance to

communicate and enlighten others with tips, tricks,

techniques and maybe even, a few well kept secrets.

I will also feature historic patterns along

side more contemporary patterns and techniques, with

reviews of new tools, materials and books, and not forgetting


The whole idea of the feather bender concept relies on all you fly-

tyers, wherever you are, who are now reading this, We need

your input in order to make this work. So don´t be shy, we

can´t wait to see your own patterns, ideas and techniques.

So please like and share…

All photographs and text on this blog are copyrighted by Barry Ord Clarke if not otherwise stated.

Barry Ord Clarke

Caddis Pupa

Caddis Pupa

Bee Cee Caddis Pupa

Hook Mustad  C49S curved caddis # 6 -14

Thread Dyneema

Gills Ostrich herl

Body Fine leather strip (chamois)

Under body Dubbing / Lead free wire if required

Legs Partridge hackle & CDC

Collar/Head Hares ear dubbing & CDC Dubbing

Each summer a few fishing freinds and I make the annual fishing trip from our home town Skien in southern Norway to Lofsdalen in Sweden. A journey that under normal circumstances will take six hours driving, from door to door.

Lofsdalen is acctually known for two things, skiing and bears. During the winter, when the bears are sleeping, Lofsdalen is a Mecca for ski and snowboard enthusiasts and becomes a throbbing white metropolis of snow scooters, snow cats and ski lifts. But at the time of our annual trip, the first week of July, most of the snow, and all of the winter turists have long gone, and the bears along with the vast amounts of mosquitoes awake hungry from their long winter sleep.

The timing of our trip is not coincidental,  with the help of the internet and telephone, 14 days before our trip we start a network of weather information between us. Sending web cam links weather forcasts and any other related info as to the conditions in Lofsdalen. Beacause each year around the first week of July ephemera vulgata can start hatching in fantastic numbers on these mountain lakes, and the big brown trout that have also spent a long winter, under the ice, are also hungry.

Yes, I know what you might be thinking, ephemera vulgata is a mayfly and this is a piece about caddis pupa ? well the past two years we havent managed to get our timing right, because of freak weather conditions, Lofsdalen is from 600 -1200m above sea level, and is subsiquently, subject to dramatic weather changes.

The back up plan, if you like, for not getting our mayfly timming right is the hatches of aeuropes largest caddis fly Phygania Grandis or great red sedge.  These first hatches are not as proliphic as the vulagta hatches and no where near as challanging for the fly fisherman, but a emerging pupa fished correctly, just under the surface can result in fantastic sport.

A good  caddis pupa  pattern can make the difference between no fish and fish !

When the caddis fly hatches into the adult insect the species are more or less, divided into two. The ones that hatch at the surface in open water and the those that make there way to the shore, where they climb out on plants or any other structure that is available.  When this occurs and caddis pupa are on the move  this pattern fishes extremely well.

When fishing this pattern, I like to dress only the head and collar with a good floatant ie: cdc oil, this also creates a perfect air bubble around the head just like the natural, and only when the pattern has soaked a little water does it begin to fish correctly.  When the porus leather and dubbed underbody have taken on water and the head is dressed with floatant, this pattern sinks so slowly that it almost “hangs” just under the surface.  I like to let it sink for 10-12 seconds or so, but you should keep alert during this “free fall” period, as criusing fish will also pick this pattern up “on the drop”. After the pupa has had time to sink I carefully mend the slack out of my fly lineand then lift the tip of my rod so that the pupa rushes towards the surface, this is when the take normally comes.

Decpite the multitude of families, sub families and species of caddis flies, the only thing you have to change is the colour and size, the pattern can remain the same.